Ray Pride (with “additional contributions” from Brian Hieggelke) offers a rundown of the film talent located between the coasts, with his list of 50—Count ‘em 50—key players in the Chicago movie scene.
Speaking of Chicago talent (number two on Pride’s list, in fact): Unreturned calls to a 1-800 number, regretfully declined invites to Cannes, limo rides to Indian reservations; as St. Vincent director Theodore Melfi describes it, the process of getting Bill Murray to star in your film is as drolly surreal as the performance he’ll almost certainly deliver. Via Movie City News.
The new issue of multilingual journal La Furia Umana offers lengthy, interesting interviews with avant-gardists Anthony Stern (“Film is always about time, but the recording of time needs to be re-looked at. You don’t really want to spend all that time living in real time, you want to spend it in artificial time.”) and Lav Diaz (“All interpretations are valid, it is a composite of so many things. As I said, it’s an abstraction, it is a Filipino voice from somewhere in time and space.…”). But the meat of the issue is a collection of shorter pieces, old and new, about a filmmaker whose engagements with the periphery of the mainstream are arguably more radical than either, Monte Hellman. Victor Erice and the journal’s editor Toni D’Angela offer heartfelt “postcards” to the filmmaker; Hellman’s frequent screenwriter Steven Gaydos lists ten things he’s learned from the man (“Hollywood talks in terms of “four quadrant movies.” Monte talks in terms of four finger tequila shots.”); Brad Stevens praises Hellman’s overlooked vampire short Stanley’s Girlfriend; and from Hellman himself, a bracingly minimalist runthrough of his oeuvre (“THE SHOOTING: How many different ways can you shoot three people on horseback?”) and a pair of rhyming photographs, secular and spiritual, though I suspect part of the point of the latter is how little different they are.
“I’ve got poetry in me. I do. I’ve got poetry in me. I ain’t going to put it down on paper.” Matthew Dessem points out that McCabe & Mrs. Miller didn’t just spring fully-formed from the thigh of Zeus; Edmund Naughton’s source novel McCabe not only possesses many of the film’s qualities, they were put back in by co-scenarists Altman and Brian McKay after earlier passes at the adaptation went a whole other, more conventional way. (And yes, that opening quote throws another writer in the mix.)
The Lego Movie aside, 2014 hasn’t seemed a banner year for animation. But there have been plenty of marvels outside the multiplex; Bilge Ebiri runs down the best.
Jonathan Rosenbaum and Kevin B. Lee have collaborated on a video essay on Rivette’s Out 1, presented along with the “preparatory” notes Rosenbaum sent Lee’s way.
After decades of “intermittent” activity often thwarted by economic and cultural indifference, Omar Ahmed traces the rise of India’s independent cinema from the ‘90s to its seemingly healthy present. Via David Hudson.
On the other hand, you can always count on Hollywood, and by extension the Hollywood Reporter, to remind you it’s the Show Business; in this case by running down the salaries handed out on film sets. The takeaway being that even when it comes to paychecks, the industry offers small and blockbuster, but the middle range has dried up completely.
In an effort to supplement what the Hollywood Reporter estimates at $25,000 a week salaries, cinematographers Janusz Kaminski, Wally Pfister, and Phedon Papamichael have launched an online site for video courses on cinematography, at about four bucks a pop. But there are free videos as well, including chats with Wim Wenders and Alexander Payne, and a link to Instagram feeds proving award-winning directors of photography like lens flare as much as the next guy; they’re just better at employing it. Via Scott Tobias.
One niche of cinephiles—and a much broader base of fans outside of film geeks—got to strike one item off their Holy Grail list this week, with the rediscovery of the first feature-length Sherlock Holmes movie, and the only film to star William Gillette, whose legendary stage performances did as much as anything to make the character iconic.
“You and Pasolini look scarily similar.” “But we don’t, really.” “You think that, perhaps because you’re close to you.” “Well, I think it looks that way… you’re just flattering me. Then I did a good performance, because I don’t really look like him!” Willem Dafoe talks to Samuel Fragoso about his latest role, incarnating Pasolini for frequent collaborator Abel Ferrara.
“Can you remember the moment when you realized Dark Star didn’t make the impact you wanted it to?” “I don’t know! I guess when I realized it didn’t make me money. I don’t know.” Apropos of nothing apparently (he’s got no new projects and it’s too early for the Halloween connection), John Carpenter has one of his amiable, just-the-facts chats with Simon Abrams about re-editing films that don’t come off, how (wearing his composer hat) he’s different than Max Steiner, and the unpleasantness of Nigel Kneale. Via Matt Fagerholm.
“When I meet women and I tell them I did Clueless they tell me their stories of how they had to buy the Jeep and bought all the clothes—even though they lived in a small town in Texas they had to have the clothes! Even the younger generation love the film. It’s mind-blowing. Even Iggy Azalea!” Costume designer Mona May talks with Robert Lang about her “girly, colourful and memorable” work on Clueless, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, and The House Bunny. Via It’s Nice That.
For the BFI, Nathalie Morris unveils some of the original production materials for The Tales of Hoffman, including expressionistic design art by Hein Heckroth and a seven-page letter from Powell to Pressburger detailing the studio-mandated cuts.
The Egyptian reopens as the newest addition to the SIFF Cinema and they are celebrating with a greatest hits line-up running through the weekend, from Kagemusha, the first film to play the original Egyptian when it opened as a theater in 1980, to the Coens’ Blood Simple and O Brother, Where Art Thou? to Amelie. Check your schedules here.
Meanwhile, up the street, NWFF concludes the Local Sightings series this weekend (schedule here) and presents a special (and very rare) screening of Hiroshi Shimizu’s silent film Japanese Girls at the Harbor featuring live music by the Seattle-based Japanese music ensemble Aono Jikken and narration by a live benshi in Japanese and English. Tickets are $15 for the general public and discounted for NWFF and SAM members, and there is a special fundraising event that includes a dinner for a special ticket price.
And on Sunday, October 5, NWFF launches its second installment of “Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema” (in collaboration with the Seattle Polish Film Festival) with seven films, including new digital restorations of Wajda’s Man of Iron, Kieslowski’s Blind Chance and A Short Film About Killing, and the cult film The Saragosa Manuscript. And they are bringing a special guest: Krzysztof Zanussi will introduce the Thursday, October 9 screening of his 1972 film The Illumination. Full schedule here.
The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker, and other contributions from friends of Parallax View.